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Post 9/11 Women Veterans Kelly Ann Holder Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division U.S. Census Bureau Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America April 15, 2010 This presentation is released to inform interested parties of ongoing research and to encourage discussion. The views expressed on statistical issues are those of the author and not necessarily those of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Introduction • The role of women in the U.S. military has changed since the inception of the All-Volunteer Force (AVF) in 1973. • On the eve of the AVF, women comprised 2 percent of the military. In 2008, 14 percent of servicemembers were women (DoD 2008). • Significant changes in legislation and policy in the early 1990s opened up occupational opportunities for active-duty women (GAO 1999). • Today over 80 percent of the services’ career positions are open for women (GAO 1999).
Introduction • In addition to these policy changes, the nature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has redefined the experience of women serving in the Armed Forces. • Since 2002, an unprecedented 155,000 women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (PBS 2007). • Today’s servicewomen represent a generational shift. They no longer face the same challenges as their predecessors. • Not only is the representation of women in the AVF increasing, but the demographics of these women are also changing.
Research Questions • How do women who served in the military only after September 11, 2001 differ from their predecessors who served in the early part of the AVF and how do they differ from their present-day nonveteran counterparts? • How have 20 years of policy changes affected the post-military outcomes of women veterans?
Data and Methods • This analysis uses data from the 1990 decennial census and the 2008 American Community Survey (ACS). • The universe for this analysis is the population of civilian women 18 to 34 years old from each data source. • The 1990 decennial census data were used to facilitate the analysis of the two cohorts of veterans. The 1990 data provide information on women veterans from the early part of the AVF-period who are close in age and in the amount of time since their separation from the military to the most recent cohort of women veterans from the Post-9/11 era. • Multivariate analysis was used to compare the earnings of veterans and nonveterans in 1990 and 2008. • All comparative statements have undergone statistical testing and are significant at the 90 percent confidence level unless otherwise noted.
Demographic Changes 1990 to 2008 An asterisk (*) in a graph denotes an estimate that is statistically different from the estimate for the reference group, “Post 9/11 women veterans.”
Race and Hispanic Origin (in percent)
Educational Attainment (in percent)
Marital Status (in percent) Today’s servicewomen are less likely than their male counterparts to be married. (Segal and Segal 2004)
Post-Military Outcomes 1990 to 2008 An asterisk (*) in a graph denotes an estimate that is statistically different from the estimate for the reference group, “Post 9/11 women veterans.”
How have jobs changed over time in the military? Active Duty Occupations of Men and Women: 1990 and 2008 “Military” occupations are those jobs specific to the Armed Forces, such as tactical operations and weapon specialists. Servicewomen are increasingly being assigned to more “nontraditional” jobs (GAO 1999). As the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan grow longer, the rules governing which jobs can be performed by women has changed to meet those needs. “All Other” includes construction, extraction, maintenance, and agricultural jobs.
Occupations of Women by Race and Hispanic Origin (in percent) Some of these changes can be explained by job losses and gains in specific occupations over time. Manufacturing, production, and material moving jobs have decreased since 1990 while service jobs have increased (Abraham and Spletzer 2009). “All Other” includes construction, extraction, maintenance, and agricultural jobs.
Post 9/11 women veterans had a higher unemployment rate than nonveterans in 2008.
About 30 percent of Early AVF veterans in 1990 and Post 9/11 veterans and nonveterans in 2008 were nonemployed.
Half of nonemployed Post 9/11 veterans worked at some point in the 12 months prior to their interview, compared with 24 percent of Early AVF veterans and 36 percent of nonveterans. About 36 percent of nonemployed Post 9/11 veterans reported “military” as their last occupation. Of them, 59 percent were 18 to 24 years old.
A higher percentage of veterans than nonveterans worked in male-dominated occupations, however the percentage was lower for Post 9/11 veterans than Early AVF veterans. Note: The differences between veterans and nonveterans in 1990 are statistically different in each category.
Selected Detailed Occupations Classified by Percent Women
Median Earnings in 2008 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars Year-round fulltime is defined as 50 or more weeks per year and 35 or more hours per week.
Multivariate Analysis of Earnings Controlling only for basic demographic characteristics, women veterans 18 to 34 years old earned 17 percent more than similar nonveteran women in 1990 and 2008. When weeks and hours are included in the model, women veterans still earned more, about 7 percent, however the longer hours they worked on average explains most of this earnings gap. Past research has typically found an earnings advantage for minority veterans. While this was the case in 1990, it did not hold true for the 2008 ACS sample. Whether this is a result of the policy changes regarding military occupations for women or the effects of the current recession cannot be determined with these data.
The demographics of women veterans are changing as the population of the women entering the military becomes more diverse. Post 9/11 women veterans are more likely to be: Racially diverse Never married More educated Black Divorced Less educated Compared with Early AVF women veterans Compared with nonveteran women
Early AVF Women Veterans: Were more likely to be in the labor force Were more likely to work fulltime hours Earned 20 percent more Compared with nonveteran women Post 9/11 Women Veterans: Were more likely to work fulltime hours Earned 7 percent more
Discussion Research has suggested that military experience is a close substitute for civilian labor market experience in occupation groups where training is the most transferable (medical, equipment repair, etc.) while not so for occupations where training is least transferable (infantry, combat). Veterans may face temporary employment problems as they first enter the labor market after their military enlistment ends due to imperfect knowledge of the civilian job market and difficulty translating military skills into civilian terms for employers.
Discussion Post 9/11 veterans are also entering into a difficult job market. Their high unemployment rate indicates that they are actively looking for work but are unable to find a job. Women who served in nontraditional military-related occupations may be at an increased disadvantage compared with Early AVF women veterans who were banned from such jobs. Women serving in the military may be doing jobs similar to military men, as the policies change regarding occupations, but women veterans are doing jobs similar to all other women. These findings may suggest difficulty transferring skills learned in male-dominated, and war-related, military occupations.
References Abraham, Katharine G. and James R. Spletzer. (2009) “Are the New Jobs Good Jobs?” Draft. Alvarez, Lizette. “GI Jane Breaks the Combat Barrier.” (16 Aug. 2009) The New York Times. Web. Cooney, Richard T., Mady Wechsler Segal, David R. Segal, and William W. Falk. (2003) “Racial Differences in the Impact of Military Service on the Socioeconomic Status of Women Veterans.” Armed Forces and Society 30:53-86. Goldberg, Matthew S. and John T. Warner (1987) “Military Experience, Civilian Experience, and the Earnings of Veterans.” The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 22, No. 1: 62-81. Gottschalck, Alfred O. and Kelly Ann Holder (2009) “We Want You! The Role of Human Capital in Explaining the Veteran-Nonveteran Earnings Differential.” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Economic Association. New York, NY. Government Accountability Office. (1999) “Trends in the Occupational Distribution of Military Women.” Washington, DC. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness. (2005) “Population Representation in the Military Services.” Washington, DC. Quester, Aline O. and Curtis L. Gilroy. (2002) “Women and Minorities in America’s Volunteer Military.” Contemporary Economic Policy, Vol. 20, No. 2: 111-121. Segal, David R. and Mady Wechsler Segal. (2004) “America’s Military Population.” Population Bulletin 59, no. 4, Washington, DC. “More Women Soldiers Dying in Iraq.” (18 Dec. 2006) NewHour Extra, PBS. Web.
Contact Information Kelly Ann Holder Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division U.S. Census Bureau Kelly.firstname.lastname@example.org 301-763-5887